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U.S., China Share Challenges with Cybersecurity, Says Cybersecurity Expert

While many consider China to be one of the instigator of cyber trouble, the Asian nation still worries about cyber attacks and is now trying to promote greater cooperation on the international stage for cyberspace.

According to official statistics, nearly 40,000 websites in China were hacked in 2009 alone. Back in January, Baidu, a Chinese search engine, was hit in a cyber attack that shut the site down for several hours.

“The Chinese have become more concerned with securing their own networks,” said Jim Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They know they are vulnerable and worry about their own hacker community.”

Recently, the Information Office of the State Council in China published a white paper titled “The Internet in China.” The paper outlines the Internet situation in China and the country’s Internet policies and views.

“This white paper is a step forward in international understanding, outreach and diplomacy,” said Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation and director of Deloitte Services LP. “It immediately follows the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in Dallas last month sponsored by the EastWest Institute in which the Chinese were active, open participants.”

Providing protection for China’s Internet infrastructure is a key goal, the paper states, and is necessary for the common good and security of the state.

“The Chinese government believes that the Internet is an important infrastructure facility for the nation,” according to the report.

The report recognizes the Internet within a nation’s borders is within the country’s realm of sovereignty and cannot be infringed upon by other nations. Additionally, while the paper calls for protecting information flow and Internet freedoms, it provides it must be “in accordance with the law.”

The Chinese do have significant worries regarding cyberspace, however. Computer crime in China has risen across the board, and around 18 million Chinese computers are infected by Conficker each month, according to the paper.

“The Chinese face severe Internet security threats but also believe that Internet security is a prerequisite for sound development and effective utilization of the Internet,” Raduege said.

To promote and facilitate international dialogue and cooperation, the paper proposes any differences be set aside and nations seek common ground to promote security.

“[The Chinese] share some challenges with us – a lack of interagency coordination, supply chain worries and a porous infrastructure,” Lewis said. “But they also have some advantages if they can figure out what to do.”

To promote international cooperation, the paper cites several initiatives that could encourage dialogue and exchange, including conducting exchanges with other nations and participate in international conferences. Also, law enforcement agencies should also increase coordination efforts to combat cyber crime, the paper states.

“At the Dallas Summit, the Chinese expressed concerns that Internet security opinions of different countries should be respected, yet common ground should be sought through strengthened international exchanges and cooperation,” Raduege said.

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